Inside XR - May 7th, 2019

Inside XR (May 7th, 2019)

HoloLens Demo Fail / Riding Science Fiction Cars in Mixed Reality / Minecraft Coming to AR

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1. A HoloLens Mixed Reality demo was aborted on stage at Microsoft Build. During the opening keynotes of the first day of the company's developer conference in Seattle, John Knoll - the chief creative officer at Industrial Light and Magic - and space historian Andy Chaikin entered the stage wearing HoloLens 2 headsets. The idea was to show the audience the experience you can see in this YouTube dress rehearsal video , and recreate the Apollo 11 moon landing. It quickly became apparent that the live technology was not going to cooperate, however, and after some awkward joking about how live demos were more dangerous than space travel, the pair left the stage. – GIZMODO 

2. The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has opened a mixed reality exhibition featuring vehicles from movies such as "Blade Runner," "Star Wars," and the Marvel franchise.  The show, which was curated in partnership with Comic-Con, is entitled “Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy.” It opened last week and includes over 50 cars from 20 films, including the DeLorean from Back to the Future and Halo's Warthog off-road vehicle. VRSCOUT

3. Spotlight: Women in VR

By Alice Bonasio

Celine Tricart has never shied away from tackling hard-hitting subjects using innovative technology. Her immersive documentary The Sun Ladies, for example, followed a group of Yazidi women in Iraq who escaped ISIS captivity and went on to start a female-only fighting unit. 

Her thought-provoking work has been featured at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, and  most recently at the Tribeca Film Festival, where last week she was awarded the Storyscapes Award - which recognized groundbreaking storytelling told through new technologies - for her latest project, 'The Key.' The film features the voice talent of Alia Shawkat as Anna, and was created in collaboration with Lucid Dreams Productions and Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab. The director donated the $10,000 prize she received to a nonprofit, and on a further positive note, four out of the five projects in the running were from female creators or female-lead teams.  

The Key placed a live actor in an interactive set, where the VR element of the experience consisted of an allegorical animation full of emotional visual metaphors. Tricart wanted to expand past standard 360-degree filmmaking to connect wit audiences who she believes have grown emotionally numb. ​​​​​​​She says that in order for more people to embrace VR stories, the industry and its creatives must find a balance between interactivity and emotional storytelling, something she believes the games industry has succeeded in doing quite well in recent years.

Which is probably why her next project will now focus on indie gaming. “To me the potential of VR was always game engine based, to bring some level of interaction is where VR thrives. The problem I’m encountering is that the more you add interactivity, the more it becomes a game which can sometimes get in the way of emotion.”

Every Tuesday we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio

4.  Spatial and Microsoft launched upgraded mixed reality enterprise tools at Build 2019. At the developer conference which opened yesterday, the two companies outlined further developments to their collaboration platform. Although compatible with multiple devices, the demo delivered on stage by Spatial Co-founder Anand Agarawala focused on features enabled by the HoloLens 2 such as hand-tracking which allows users to pick virtual documents and hand it to a colleague, and eye-tracking which is now good enough to '' “convey subtle levels of user emotion.” – FAST COMPANY

5.  Microsoft hinted that it would launch an AR mobile version of Minecraft. At the end of the first day's keynote at its Build Developers conference, the company showed a teaser video showcasing what looked like an AR adaptation of the popular game with the date 'May 17.' – GEEKWIRE

6. Ben Lang does an in-depth review of HP's new Reverb Windows mixed reality headset. Aimed primarily at the enterprise market and priced at $600, the device has the highest resolution headset currently available at that consumer price point, but still exhibits irksome controller issues.– ROAD TO VR

7. VR training reminds drivers to pay more attention and share the road. The “Street Smart” Virtual Reality Exhibit outside Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday confronted drivers with realistic scenarios which could lead to accidents and near misses. It is hoped that such initiatives will help promote safer driving practices.– WTOP

8. A teacher has made VR a part of the curriculum for a group of high-school students. Jonathan Earley heads the CAST (Centers for Applied Science and Technology) Tech group which currently consists of 250 ninth and tenth graders. He predicts that in the next decade, immersive technologies are going to become as prevalent as tablets or smartphones, and that learning to work with them now will give his pupils a crucial advantage when entering the workforce. – NEWS 4 SAN ANTONIO

9. There are many kinds of VR positional tracking, and no universal industry standard on how to implement them. David Heaney explains some of the variations and how they affect the usability of various headsets currently on the market. – VENTUREBEAT

10. Researchers from the University of Georgia, Athens, tested how VR could help people push through the pain of intensive exercise. For the study, 94 active men and women performed three sets of 30-second high-intensity sprint intervals while wearing VR headsets, with half the group receiving immersive content, while the others were presented with a static picture. The ones who were fully immersed in a VR cityscape reported a feeling lower levels of pain as they were cycling through it. – BICYCLING.COM

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This newsletter was written and curated by Alice Bonasio, a journalist and consultant obsessed with the immersive technology space, including AR/VR/MR/XR and any other acronyms that fit into the realities spectrum. Over the past 15 years, Alice has advised a wide range of start-ups and corporations on digital transformation and communication strategy and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tech Trends. She also regularly contributes to publications such as Quartz, Fast Company, Wired, Playboy, The Next Web, Ars Technica, VRScout and many others. Follow her on Twitter @alicebonasio


Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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